Number of furloughed workers in Taiwan falls to 6-year low

2017/05/16 17:32:32
(CNA file photo)

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) The number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan in the first half of May fell to a low of almost six years at a time when the local economy is showing signs of improvement, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Tuesday.

As of May 15, the number of workers who had agreed with their employers to take unpaid leave fell from 184 at the end of April to 102, the lowest level since the government started to release the data in October 2011, the MOL said.

The number of employers who implemented their unpaid leave programs also fell to a six-year low of four as of May 15, down two from the end of April, according to MOL statistics.

During the 15-day period, two employers terminated their unpaid leave programs and no other employers implemented their own programs, the data indicates.

Twice each month, the government releases data on unpaid leave to provide an update on conditions in the local labor market.

The fall in the number of furloughed workers and employers who had their unpaid leave programs in place posted evidence of an improving job market in an economy that is seen to be on the road to recovery.

In March, Taiwan's jobless rate fell to 3.78 percent in March, a decline of 0.07 percentage points from a month earlier, the government statistics show. In the first three months of this year, the local unemployment rate averaged 3.81 percent, down 0.01 percentage points from a year earlier.

With global demand rising, Taiwan's export-oriented economy has been growing at a faster pace on the back of better export performance. Several economic think tanks have raised their forecasts for Taiwan's economic growth for 2017 to more than 2 percent from 1.50 percent seen in 2015.

Most of the companies with employees on unpaid leave were small enterprises with workforces of fewer than 50 employees, and their programs were implemented for up to three months, according to the MOL.

The government has launched a NT$20 billion (US$664 million) program to reduce the financial impact of furloughs on workers, offering them training to upgrade their job skills, the MOL said.

Under the program, trainees receive a stipend of NT$120 per hour to help meet their living expenses, up to a maximum of NT$12,000 per month, the ministry said.

Employees also have the option of taking online training courses that are available on the website of the MOL's Skill Evaluation Center, the ministry said.

The MOL said that after the new rigid work week rules took effect in late December, demand for workers has increased to meet the regulatory requirements, but it added that the new work rules has not directly reduced the number of furloughed workers.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Frances Huang)
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